Directing the New Delhi-based Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre to release within a week 60 camels kept there since they were rescued last December while being taken through Haryana to Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh,the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered Haryana Police to register an FIR against authorities of the shelter for being a law unto themselves.
The Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre at Raja Garden is chaired by Maneka Gandhi. The 13-page order was passed on May 30 but a copy of the detailed judgment was made available on Tuesday.
The bench of Justices Jasbir Singh and Rakesh Kumar Jain directed the shelter to release the 60 camels to the Station House Officer of Jhajjar who will get the animals medically examined and if found fit will hand them over to the owners.
If to the contrary,the District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police,Jhajjar,are directed to make necessary arrangements,may be in some gaushala etc for upkeep of the sick animals, the bench said.
In December,more than sixty camels were rescued by the nonprofit People For Animals and brought in trucks to the Raja Garden facility. It was alleged that the animals were bought at camel melas in Rajasthan and were being smuggled through Haryana for slaughter in Baghpat.
PFA founder Maneka Gandhi had then said it was the third time they had intercepted camels being herded to their deaths. She had called it a steady mafia trade. She was not available for comments on Tuesday. Her office said she was abroad.
The High Court also ordered registration of a FIR against Jhajjar police sub-inspector Sandeep Kumar since he handed over the camels to unknown persons without any authority.
The order refers to the very clever tactics adopted by the shelter to defy court orders. On May 15,the High Court had directed the shelter to release the camels forthwith. But on the same day,the shelter moved an application before the Director of Animal Husbandry,Rajasthan for medical opinion on the health of the camels.
Reading of report… runs opposite to averments made in the written statement filed by the respondents (shelter)… it is stated that from Delhi,the animals were transported to Pali and put in the custody of Jain Gaushala at Pali. The gaushala has necessary infrastructure to keep those animals… reading of the report indicates that at the time of medical examination,the animals were found spread in an area of 55 km from Pali and were in custody of various persons at different places. In the report it is only stated that as per the statements made by the keepers of the animals,the animals were weak, the order stated.
The NGO concerned is claiming (to be a) pioneer in protecting the animals. The disputed animals were put in the custody of respondents on December 27,2012. It is the case of the respondents that sufficient fodder was provided to the animals along with medical treatment. If that was so,how after a period of five months,the animals are still weak is a question which indicates… falsity of averments made in the written statement, the bench said,noting that eight camels died at the shelter.
The High Court took suo motu cognizance of the matter on a referral from the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Gurgaon who suspected a nexus between the Haryana Police and the shelter. The CJM referred to an incident in which eight persons alleged that they were the owners of 68 camels seized by Haryana Police. The eight persons were arrested on the complaint of the shelter which alleged that the camels were being taken for slaughter.